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CBL breaking ground on 196-acre shopping center in Southaven

Southaven — CBL and Associates Properties Inc., the owner of the three enclosed regional malls in Mississippi, is holding an official ground-breaking October 20 for a 196-acre open-air shopping center to be located in the southeast quadrant of Interstate 55 and Goodman Road in Southaven.

CBL is headquartered in Chattanooga, Tenn. It owns 167 retail properties including 67 malls. Malls owned by the company in Mississippi include Bonita Lakes Mall in Meridian, Pemberton Square in Vicksburg and Turtle Creek Mall in Hattiesburg.

Deborah Gibb, director of corporation relations for CBL and Associates Properties, said site work for the center to be called Southaven Towne Center is being done at the present time.

“We are moving forward with the project with the grand opening expected in October 2005,” Gibb said. “We’re on target and looking forward to providing a great retail destination to the community. Southaven is a growing market and with that growth comes the need for more retail. You are seeing significant population growth and tremendous business development, coupled with the growth in schools and the community as a whole. So it is a perfect location for our company to create a shopping destination for the community.”

EMJ Corp., Chattanooga, Tenn., is the general contractor for the project that will include 625,000 square feet of retail space.

Diane Hill, executive director, Southaven Chamber of Commerce, said Southaven Towne Center is one of three shopping centers planned in Southaven.

“The Southaven Towne Center will be the first of them completed,” Hill said.
“McRaes will be the anchor of another center that will be under development soon on Church Road. Southaven Towne Center has a lot of retail names that the community has wanted for some time. There is a lot of excitement about having those stores and restaurants. I know that will be a major destination in North Mississippi.”

She believes the development will help attract additional businesses, while also enhancing the available workforce in the area.

“Now in addition to good housing and education, we will have extensive retail options,” Hill said. “We know a lot of Northwest Mississippi already shops here, and we also draw up into West Memphis, Ark. People from eastern Arkansas already shop here in Southaven. We will strengthen our draw in Memphis, and pick up a lot of the North Mississippi market, as well.”

The anchors for the center will be JCPenney and Dillard’s. JCPenney and small shop retailers in phase one of the development are scheduled to open in fall of 2005. Dillard’s will open in the second phase scheduled to open in the spring of 2006. Dillard’s will be a two-level, 140,000-square-foot store with the ability to expand up to 200,000 square feet. JCPenney, encompassing 97,000 square feet, will be designed with wider aisles, improved lighting and new branding graphics.

CBL chairman and CEO Charles B. Lebovitz said Southaven Towne Center will not only have first-class department stores, but other top-notch national retailers and restaurants. Other retailers who will be in the center include Circuit City, Linens & Things, Pier One Imports, Kirkland’s, Trade Secrets, Rack Room Shoes, Merle Norman, Claire’s, Lane Bryant and Payless Shoe Stores.

The center is about 70% pre-leased, in addition to the department stores. It will feature an open-air pedestrian environment with extensive landscaping, a variety of architectural elements, two department stores, four large specialty retailers and more than 100,000 square feet of small shop retailers. There will also be numerous dining destinations.
The shopping center will have in excess of 2,500 parking spaces that will border the retail buildings.

DeSoto County was recently ranked the 36th fastest-growing county in the country, the only county in Mississippi to make the top 100 list. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, DeSoto County’s population grew from 107,199 in 2000 to 124,378 in 2003, an increase of about 16%.

That follows the county’s rapid growth of 57.9% between 1990 and 2000. Southaven has experienced one of the largest increases in sales tax revenues of any city in Mississippi, and is on track to boost those revenues significantly more with Southaven Towne Center and the two other planned retail shopping destination developments.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Becky Gillette at bgillette@bellsouth.net.

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